With the Reds off to a brutal start to the season, and recently extended third baseman Eugenio Suarez out with injury, attention has turned to the question whether and when the team will promote top infield prospect Nick Senzel. GM Dick Williams addressed the matter with MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, emphasizing that the organization is focused first on Senzel’s development.
The second overall pick in the 2016 draft, Senzel has played to expectations since joining the professional ranks. He’s widely considered one of the ten or so best prospects in the game and knocked around both High-A and Double-A pitching in 2017.
Particularly with Suarez still on the mend, there’s clearly a place for Senzel in the Cincinnati infield. But Williams says the organization felt it wasn’t the right call to promote Senzel to fill in the need. For one thing, he had been playing in the middle infield since the start of Spring Training. Thus, it was “a more natural move” for the organization to turn to the less-hyped Alex Blandino (along with some veterans already on the MLB roster) for the time being.
Beyond that, the top Reds’ baseball decisionmaker said, the preference is for Senzel’s promotion “to be more dictated by his performance and confidence as opposed to being dictated by the situation” in the majors. Despite his extremely impressive effort last year, Senzel turned in a relatively tepid Cactus League performance and has carried that sluggishness into the early portion of the 2018 season at Triple-A Louisville.
Service time is often the elephant in the room, though at this point the Reds could promote Senzel whenever they wish while knowing he will be controllable for six future seasons. Of course, if he’s held down long enough — mid-June, perhaps, though the precise date won’t be known until after the fact — then Senzel might be kept from reaching arbitration a year early as a Super Two player.
Regardless, Williams says such considerations have not factored in. The club is focused on Senzel being fully prepared — “more than ready when he gets here, if that’s at all possible.” Williams says the hope is that, once Senzel is up, he’ll be in the majors for good. But just when that will come to pass is unclear. And in the meantime, disappointed fans are sure to continue expressing their frustrations.